Poems for staying at home (Day 18)



Today we have a short and apposite poem from Beatriz Vignoli. I have no idea which hotel is referred to by the four asterisks, but the poem always makes me think of the Hotel Castelar in Buenos Aires, where Lorca lived for six months in 1933-4. The Castelar, for long a landmark on the Avenida de Mayo, closed down definitively last week as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Written on the Bedside Table of a Hotel ****

For shame of being
poor, I spent half my life
hiding away
from my friends, to avoid
the gossip;
now they are
from all these
new, rare
now I
embrace them, but they no longer
radiate heat, their faces are grey
– I mean a dark grey –
and now nothing at all remains
of those happy and brilliant people
we were going to be.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)


Escrito en la mesa de luz de un Hotel ****

Por vergüenza de ser
pobre, me pasé media vida
de mis amigos, no fuese que
ahora ellos están
de todas esas
enfermedades nuevas,
ahora sí
los abrazo, pero ya no irradian
calor, sus caras están grises
– quiero decir, de un gris
oscuro – y ya no queda nada
de todo lo felices y geniales
que íbamos a ser.


Beatriz Vignoli was born in Rosario, Argentina in 1965. She is a novelist, poet, journalist, translator and art critic. Five of her poems appear in The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America.


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